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MEDIA CONTACT: Gisele Galoustian
561-297-2676, ggaloust@fau.edu

FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine 1of 15 Nationally to Receive Planning Grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Increase the Diversity of the NIH-funded Workforce

Partners include FAU, Florida A&M University, Scripps Research Institute Florida, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, and Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute Florida

BOCA RATON, Fla. (October 23, 2013) —The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University is the only school in Florida and 1of 15 nationally to receive a $211,000 planning grant from the National Institute On Minority Health And Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health for its NIH “Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) initiative. The main goal of NIH BUILD is to increase the diversity of the NIH-funded workforce to increase enrollment of college graduates from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research in graduate training. This NIH grant will support FAU’s initiative to establish the first BUILD Consortium in Florida, and is a planning grant in preparation for a proposal for FAU to house a BUILD program with the goal of receiving funding from the NIH for $1 million each year for five years.

“FAU is the most ethnically diverse institution in Florida’s State University System and we are uniquely positioned to establish a BUILD Consortium composed of FAU, Florida A&M University, and our research partners, Scripps Research Institute Florida, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, and Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute Florida,” said Julie C. Servoss, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for diversity, cultural and student affairs and principal investigator (PI) on the grant at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “We are committed to develop this consortium with these world-class research institutions to increase the diversity of doctoral scholars.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported in National Science Board (2010), Florida ranks below most other states in terms of the numbers of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professionals in the workforce, lagging behind states with the largest economies.

“Increasing the diversity of the NIH-funded workforce is essential to the biomedical enterprise and our society,” said John W. Newcomer, M.D., executive dean at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “FAU is committed to increasing the recruitment and mentored training of underrepresented scientists in biomedical research to broaden the scope of inquiry and narrow the health gap.”

The FAU initiative, Research Advancement & Innovation for Scientific Excellence – Undergrad Pipelines (RAISE UP) will identify infrastructure needs and operationalize strategies that support the expansion of existing student pipelines and institutional collaborations to recruit and promote the development of scientists underrepresented in biomedical research. FAU’s College of Medicine currently has two programs that target diverse undergraduate populations. The Medical Scholars Program that is administered jointly with FAMU, Florida’s oldest historically black university, is a program that successfully equips students starting as freshmen, with the tools and knowledge necessary to enter medical school. The Healthcare Careers Outreach Program (HCOP), a program for middle and high school students, is designed to increase interest in the health sciences and careers in medicine and to mentor and prepare students to successfully compete at the highest levels of college and post-graduate studies.

The initial goals of the FAU BUILD Consortium are to collect quantitative and qualitative data relevant to student recruitment, success and retention to better understand barriers and opportunities to higher degrees in biomedical science and to plan strategies to strengthen research recruitment, training and capacity.

Collaborators on the FAU BUILD grant include Newcomer, Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., the first Sir Richard Doll professor and senior academic advisor to the dean in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine; Donna Chamely-Wiik, Ph.D., assistant scientist in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science; Carrie Ann Perez, M.S., director of special projects in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine; and Sharon A. Rivera, Ph.D., in FAU’s Division of Research. The pipeline and research institute collaborators are Karam Soliman, Ph.D., professor emeritus, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, FAMU; Dawn Johnson, Ph.D., senior director for Florida operations, Scripps Research Institute Florida; Gregg Fields, Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs, Florida, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies; David Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., CEO and scientific director, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience; and John Schatzle, Ph.D., director of scientific operations, Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute Florida.

“Having qualified individuals from various backgrounds, perspectives and influences helps to strengthen our ability to solve complicated scientific problems,” said Servoss. “Diversity in science benefits everyone through improved outcomes.”

The mission of the National Institute On Minority Health And Health Disparities (NIMHHD) is to lead scientific research to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities. The National Center for Education Statistics (2008) reported that between 2000 and 2008, African-Americans represented 2.3 percent of PhDs awarded nationally and Hispanics/Latinos represented 2.9 percent nationally. 

-FAU-


Research in this publication was supported by NIMHHD of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20MD008692. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

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